In a move that has to make Google somewhat nervous, Twitter has redesigned its homepage so that non-Twitter members can search topics from Twitter.com, just as they can at Google.com, Yahoo.com or Microsoft's Bing.com.
"We're eager to see if encouraging a sense of wonder and discovery leads to a better first impression of Twitter," Doug Bowman, creative director at Twitter, wrote in a Tweet and quoting from the company's blog Tuesday. Earlier in the day, he Tweeted, "Feeling calm before the storm. Except there's no storm. Only quietly mounting tension and anxiety for what lies ahead." What lies ahead for Twitter is the lucrative search business.
Google (GOOG) has been raking in the loot since becoming king of search. Being even a court jester in the kingdom of search is miles away for Twitter, but real-time Twitter search has to be worth a few gold coins. And some might argue that real-time search is more relevant as cultures around the globe demand news of the moment. This makes Twitter more valuable, although it seems it's too late for a tech giant to buy the tech upstart.
More importantly for Twitter, this step lifts the curtain for non-Twitter members to see what's inside. What used to be a sign-up page for those who weren't Twitter members at twitter.com now shows a real-time search page listing the most searched Twitter topics. If Google is at all worried about the colorful photos and categories at bing.com, imagine the nervousness about twitter.com's list of hot weekly and daily topics, and those changing by the moment.
Now those menus are available to folks who go to twitter.com and they don't have to sign up or be Twitter users to use the search feature. The downside for Twitter users is you can't see the weekly and monthly listings of the trending topics when you are logged into your account. I'm betting that will change soon.
"Twitter has moved from simple social networking into a new kind of communication and a valuable source of timely information," Twitter wrote on its blog on Tuesday. And in a likely unintentional nod to Google's don't-be-evil motto, Twitter wrote, "Also, it's fun."
Twitter is one-upping Google. Folks use Google constantly for search without signing up for a Google membership. Of course, Google has Gmail, Google Docs, iGoogle and other services that Web surfers may sign up for. Twitter did the opposite, which I argue is a better approach. They got millions to sign-up first, and then they opened up the no-membership-required search page. Cleverly done.
And there's more to come, according to Twitter CEO Evan Williams. In a Tweet Tuesday evening, he thanked his search team for the new front page. "That was buggin' me," he wrote. "Onward."
Hey Google, sounds like there's more to come. Has Microsoft been distracting you? There's a new target in town.
Anthony Massucci is a senior writer for DailyFinance. You may follow him on Twitter at hianthony.
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